The social mechanism
The task we must undertake to ensure our ongoing survival as a species is to understand and make clearly explicit the current systems that make up the social mechanism as a whole, and to make these open (understandable and accessible to all). We must take seriously the need to align to the mutually beneficial, and essential, vision of making the environment and the well-being of all its inhabitants the common foundation of all aspects of the social mechanism. This means that every aspect must actively partake in the effort to align to this common vision, by defining clearly the necessary corrections and all taking on our portion of the work required to make the necessary changes.
|The universal patterns and principles the cosmos uses to build stable, healthy, and sustainable systems throughout the real world can and must be used as a model for economic-system design.|
|— Capital Institute|
|Since humanity is the only species on Earth with the mental capacity to alter/affect its ecosystem in truly profound ways, this necessity for alignment becomes critical for species sustainability, public health and true problem solving advancement. Nothing could be more dangerous than a world culture that, given the exponential increase in our capacity to affect ecological and social balance with technology, misunderstands its power and effects. In many ways, humanity is faced with an educational race against time with respect to its current immaturity in handling the incredible, newfound powers it has realized via science and technology.|
|— The Zeitgeist Movement|
- 1 Mechanisms
- 2 The purpose of society
- 3 The non-aggression principle
- 4 Social contracts
- 5 Many variations
- 6 The free market and inequality
- 7 Property rights
- 8 Employment & Automation
- 9 Notes
- 10 See also
Todo: intro to mechanism by Robertson
Accounting for forces at play
An important aspect of systems which is all too often forgotten is that it must be designed to account for the forces at play in its operating environment. In the same way that a physical machine must account in its design for forces such as gravity and momentum, so must an organisation or social mechanism account for the forces such as the conflicting goals of existing centralised systems, or peoples habits that are based on wide-spread false conceptions.
The most fundamental and dominant force is fragmentation which benefits the centralised, materialistic, self-oriented systems that emerge generally in our social mechanism in the form of the economic bottom line. So in our deployment of the common vision, we must ensure that our organisational infrastructure is properly designed to be deployed into a heavily fragmented and centralised environment which is in many cases overtly hostile to systems aligned towards unification.
The most common means that these opposed systems use to hinder alignment is through the use of legally binding contracts which in turn occur through the acceptance of benefits (i.e. there doesn't necessarily need to be a piece of paper with a signature involved for a legally binding contract to exist between parties). So independence is the key to being able to freely pursue the common vision.
Making mechanisms explicit
Before any organisation can properly direct itself, it must make its system clearly described and complete. If it's a mechanism of society that is designed to serve the people it should also be understandable and accessible to the widest possible audience. Since this audience will be diverse in terms of their cultures and areas of expertise, and we want to ensure maximum re-use of knowledge, the systems need to be describable in a common language that can act as a medium between any other contexts.
We have excellent semantic web tools available for this allowing us to define any concepts, especially systems oriented concepts in commonly available well-defined standards.
The purpose of society
From Thomas Robertson: The aim of society is to provide a field for the perfecting of individual existence, which it does by the provision of the Basic Needs through co-operative effort and differentiation of function, and by creating a suitable field for the exercise of the higher human faculties.
One of the very general requirements is for a group of affected parties to govern the mechanisms they're affected by together. There are also other systemic requirements common to all, such as governance guaranteed by its systemic structure to offer the best known way for the group to collaborate on and achieve their goals together by fully utilising their combined knowledge and expertise. These groups that form from common interest or from groups affected by a common requirement are what we call organic groups. Groups of people (or organisations or projects etc) that collectively share a certain variety of attributes.
Lets imagine for a moment that there existed a medium by which these groups could be made explicit and that they had the tools to collaborate on a vision and work on their projects and goals together; that they could govern themselves. It would soon become apparent that the larger and more diverse the members of such groups were, the more generally applicable the goals they all share in common would be. Some of these common goals are universal since they form the stable structure of society itself; without them the peoples needs could not be catered for such as their safety, health and survival.
The non-aggression principle
A social mechanism that requires force to achieve its goals is immoral and unsustainable. The society's purpose as described above is to protect the peoples rights and to support their productivity and well-being, and as such should be something that the people would willingly wish to be members of. A social mechanism that can only maintain its membership using force is really not even worth consideration as a valid candidate.
Laws are needed to protect people's rights, and it needs to be backed by force to be effective in this role. But the law must simply be an organised extension of the individuals rights to the group. If an individual doesn't have the right to take someone else's property (even if it's for a good purpose such as giving to the poor), then the force of the law should not be able to have this power either. In other words, the police and military are required, but are only ever used for defending the rights (liberty and freedom) of the people and the nation, this is the non-aggression principle, or NAP. Here's a quote from Frederic Bastiat's 1850 book The Law which is very apt here:
|And, in all sincerity, can anything more than the absence of plunder be required of the law? Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right.This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice. Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force—this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organise any human activity whatever, whether it be labour, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organising by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organisation — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?|
|— The Law, Frederic Bastiat|
One interesting consequence of the NAP is that it cannot force people to accept the system, and therefore gives rise to the possibility of many different systems existing concurrently in the same territory. There are many systems of society defined that are based on the principle of non-aggression such as Libertarianism, Agorism, Anarchism and newer systems such as the mechanism proposed by the Zeitgeist movement which could, in principle, all function together in harmony.
Of course one problem with this is that different systems may have quite different definitions for the term "aggression", for example a large factory spewing pollution into the air and water supply is an act of aggression against the people, which makes the concept of aggression very difficult to define. Is it aggression for an individual to burn their rubbish in their back yard? to have a wood burning stove? to play excessively loud music in their car?
Each social mechanism can be thought of as a group that people can choose to become a member of by agreeing with it's laws which are in effect a social contract. Although force is only used against people in direct self-defense, they may be required to alleviate damage they've inflicted (such as clean up a river they've polluted) or risk loosing their membership if they refuse. This was how the "Common law" operated in the old days, people would be judged by their peers for a crime they had committed and if they were found guilty they would be required to offer the victim remedy, and would become an "outlaw" if they refused. An outlaw is simply a person who no longer needs to obey the law (they're outside the law), but they're also no longer protected by the law, they're effectively no different from a wild animal and people would rarely choose this fate for themselves. For more information about the Common Law and its justice system, and how it can be applied today, see Schaefer Cox's lecture.
The current system doesn't allow any other social mechanism to exist and will use force to shut any competing system down, especially competing systems of money, law or force. Modern technology in the form of distributed trustless systems such as Bitcoin and Ethereum allow complex contract-based systems to be built in amongst the current system which it is powerless to prevent, so this is very likely the form that new social mechanisms will take in the future. These systems have no single point of failure that can be attacked and are designed to remain functional even if a large portion (up to half) of the members are hostile to its success and actively attempting to destroy it by falsifying information or otherwise attacking the integrity of the network.
While Bitcoin is purely a system of currency, it has allowed for the creation of many other applications that also work in a distributed trustless way such as social networks, reputation systems, messaging systems and many more. Ethereum is of great interest because it's doesn't perform any specific application at all, it's purely about using the Bitcoin-like technology for building applications, groups and organisations formed from the general mechanism of contracts. This is exactly what's needed to form new organisations, institutions and societies that can exist without the sanction of the current system - in other words, these are the kinds of tools that support non-violent revolution.
todo - many social contracts defined to cater for differing needs across the many social demographics and nations and sub-cultures - like Linux and its thousands of distros catering for every need that has arisen over the years
The free market and inequality
One issue of hot debate is whether the free market is a good feature in the social mechanism or not, because one of the features of the market paradigm is that it fosters competition rather than cooperation, and leads to social inequality and centralisation of power which is unsustainable. Systems that advocate the free market say that the problems with the market paradigm are all due to the interference of the state, and that a truly free market would not have such problems (see Agorism for example). However other systems such as Zeitgeist maintain that the problems are inherent in the market paradigm itself.
I think these arguments are moot however, because even if there were only one system functioning in the environment and it was not a supporter of the free market, but did support the NAP, then many people would choose to trade their goods with one another, and real forms of money such as gold and silver coins would be minted due to the demand for them. Loans, and therefore banks, would exist which would logically exhibit interest (usury). So I think that whether or not NAP systems advocate the free market and usury or not is irrelevant since it will always exist in an environment free of force. Therefore there will always be a certain degree of inequality, but the extremes of inequality actually come from the centralisation of power which occurs due to individuals or minority groups gaining control over large amounts of land and natural resource, which brings us to the concept of property rights.
todo... access vs ownership, commons, co-ops
Employment & Automation
Another problem with regard to the free market model is that it's based on there always being enough employment for everyone. Anyone who doesn't have an active role in the production system has no means of consumption available to them.
But we live in the age of automation and it would simply not be the most efficient solution for the social mechanism to be needlessly employing people who require more resource and work imperfectly and slowly compared to their machine counterparts. The market system actually contains a self-destructive paradox here because it welcomes automation since it's cheaper and easier to maintain than human labour, but at the same time it requires total employment of the population to function properly.
This means that the market-based systems alone are definitely not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the the social mechanism of the near future. New systems of production and distribution will be needed as the primary social mechanism, even though the market will probably always exist as well, at least on the form of basic trade.
|We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;|
|— Thomas Jefferson in 1776 from the United States Declaration of Independence|
The natural order
|Such a conception of society follows the natural order. In it the dominating power of finance is destroyed; and since money would be free and not negative, debt would cease to exist. And with the disappearance of the debt would cease the centralisation of power which at present deprives men of their sovereignty. In it also consumption would determine production, and a united social policy would prevail without arbitrary pressure from any quarter. The confusion of ends and means would cease since the end of man (the bottom line to maximise the well being of the environment and all inhabitants) would be truly served. Leisure would become the test of efficiency in industry, the fewness of laws the test in politics, and the smaller the Administration and Sanctions the greater the excellence of government (our self governance). The criterion of all would be the security with freedom.
The seven mechanisms constitute the organism of society serving integral man by fullest and freest provision for all his needs, and thereby the prevailing pressure would be towards co-operation and unity rather than competition and disunity (fragmentation).
[...]The expansion of the individuality through the natural order would be achieved by organic growth from within and not by planning imposed from without. It would provide the one and only basis for stability in society. And just as unity is not uniformity, neither is stability stagnation. A stable society is not static but one steadily progressing towards its objective (vision).
|— Human Ecology (p. 394-5)|
At the level of society the formation of trust groups and self-governing organic groups working together in the market as cooperatives to serve the people's needs is essentially a system of anarcho-syndicalism which evolves naturally through working in accord with the principles of agorism and The Second Realm.
Universal common goals
After the basic needs are met, there are still further universals such as the increase of vitality and well-being for all, the collective ability to achieve goals more effectively and the reduction of wasted resource and energy. Since these are universals common to all, it follows that they be clearly defined and made accessible and understandable to all. These clearly defined common aspects form the "social mechanism".
The spreading of understanding of the mechanism and the raising of awareness of the importance of self governance and global alignment is the primary work. Packaging this knowledge and the accompanying tools into a re-usable seed form and propagating it widely is work that is common to all aligned systems. The Platform specification defines a deployment department specifically aimed at this aspect of the common work.
Defining corrections to the mechanism
The natural order and common values give us a guide for describing our ideal system (at least a good first attempt at it) in the same common medium that we described the other diverse systems in, so we would then have the ability to see what aspects differed by how much, and start to determine the importance each. These differences form our common objectives, or goals which are required to achieve our ideal vision.
Each goal will have a number of obstacles to overcome as it moves on its path toward completion, as these are discovered the system will need to undergo change, but must do so without compromising the bottom line of the environment and the well-being of all its inhabitants.
The common work
Achieving the common goals requires work which is distributed amongst all the organisations with available resource to perform the work. This is achieved by every organisation that is aligned with the common vision mergeing the platform specification into its own system of operation, as that in addition to performing its own core business, it also contributes to global alignment with the vision and values.
If it were easy to align into a global self-governing system, we would have already done it. There are many obstacles to this vision, but they ultimately all come down to different variations of a single theme, fragmentation. And the solutions all come down to variations on a similar theme too; different variations of unification. We need to unify our differences to fully benefit from our common knowledge, resources, expertise and our common needs too. The tools to do this are already available within the wide spectrum of Internet technology we have available today.
The semantic web is an emerging "universal language" that can act as a common medium through which all our diverse knowledge and systems can connect. We can use this new technology to align ourselves into one self governing planetary organism.